Recently, I had to embark on a great traumatic artistic life-choice. The stress was so great I swooned. It even brought on one of my heads. Oh, woe is me, whatever I shall I do? If I don’t make the best selection, people could actually die. The life of an artist is fraught with life-wrenching decisions. That’s right: I had to choose a frame.
My decision seemed to shock the framer: I didn’t want my sampler covered in glass, just a simple, rustic dark wood casing. Initially they looked at me as if I’d asked for colonic irrigation to be simultaneously administered, but nonetheless, once I explained my reasons, they did their best.
Once I had a summer job as a frame-maker, polishing glass for mass-produced prints. Nobody cared about the frame, not me, the manufacturer or the shop that sold them. All that mattered was the glass: it should shine like crystal in the sun. Frames were cheap, tawdry and plastic.
Hours of work goes into something as simple as a picture-frame. I never believed how much it would matter. Prints and paintings seemed to arrive complete and ready-made as if by magic and frames were simply what you stuck a hook on to hang your print on the wall.
My photomontage was due to appear in an exhibition. The colour is predominantly silver and yellow, and I asked for a simple metal frame. The framer was again shocked. The ruined the effect somewhat by presenting it creased, and then looked at me as I was asking for them to clip my toenails with their teeth when I asked for it to be repaired, saying that people want their work creased. Yeah. Sure. I’m new around here, but come on.
At my first exhibition opening, and conscious of that damn crease (and my long toenails – they refused clip them) I viewed my work, simply thrilled to be there. It was placed at exactly the right height, and hung expertly and precisely straight: I was amazed when I first saw perfectly aligned pictures measured out with tape measures and spirit levels.
There was just one problem. My piece was next to the best frame in the world. It had a mirrored edge: a vintage frame, chanced upon, and snapped up at a flea market/antiques fair, I’d imagine at flea market and snapped up. It fitted the work perfectly, and enhanced the drawing - my first experience of frame envy. I stood gazing not at that frame. The work was excellent (as you can see) but my thoughts were solely on that frame. Bring it to me!
Over the months, I’ve learned a lot. You need a relationship with a good framer. They must be consulted, as they know what’s right. And yes, when I showed my painfully honest friend my tiny one-sentence sampler, roughly framed in thick dark wood (my attempt at authenticity) she announced that it was clumsy, and damn her - she’s right.
That’s when it finally hit home: framing matters. Now I want double mounting set in antique silver for my next photomontage. Another new obsession, and more expensive shiny toys to buy.